Marketing is most effective when it sits right at the heart of a property company, playing a key role in informing business decisions, pricing, and communication with customers. Marketing is also crucial in ensuring that a company fully understands its target audience so it knows how to meet their needs and solve their problems in order to maximise sales.
One key tool that a property company can use to get under the skin of their potential buyers, ensuring they target them as effectively as possible, is the creation of marketing personas for their potential buyers.
What is a Marketing Persona?
A marketing persona is a semi fictitious profile based on the behaviour, lifestyle, and characteristics of a group of customers who share similar traits.
A good persona provides you with a deep understanding of your potential buyers. It brings your ideal buyer to life.
A persona considers everything about your buyer from their family, job and income to their interests, hobbies, and what their typical week looks like. It should also cover what is important to them in a property and what their needs and challenges look like. The more detail you can include the better.
Armed with all of this insight, you can ensure that the properties you are selling will meet the needs of your potential buyers and enable you to create focused marketing strategies and materials that appeal to them and maximise your chances of straightforward sales.
How to Create a Marketing Persona?
Let’s look at the various steps necessary to create an effective persona for your property buyers.
Step 1 – Do Your Research
The first step to creating a marketing persona is to conduct your research, making sure it is comprehensive and drawn from a variety of sources.
A good starting point is to review your current database of existing and potential customers. Examine what you know about them already from previous interactions such as current situation, property purchase history and their location, job, and income.
Look back at your previous developments with your sales teams and show home staff. Talk about the gems of information you discovered about your buyers which helped to match them with their ideal property. Discuss the challenges you faced in selling previous properties, what hurdles you needed to overcome in the sales process, and which marketing campaigns had the most conversions and why.
Also consider other channels such as socio economic desk research for your target location, interviewing attendees at open days, and conducting surveys.
The aim of this research is to gather as much information as possible about your potential buyers, their lifestyles, and what motivates them.
Step 2 – Identify Commonalities
Once you have completed your research, analyse your findings and identify common behaviours and similarities. These could be things like income vs house purchase type, lifestyle and number of bedrooms, common hobbies, and what they like in terms of amenities and facilities e.g. city centre, schools, hospitals etc.
You should also look for patterns in terms of your buyer’s goals and requirements. Why do they want to purchase a property? Will it be their family home? An investment property? Or their first step on the housing ladder? Consider too what help or additional services may entice them to move such as financial advice, help to buy, and being able to sell an existing property.
Ultimately the trick to creating successful personas is understanding the buyer’s psychology. You want to end up with some dominant groups who share similar profiles which you can use to create your personas.
Step 3 – Create Stories
Stories can be powerful and are a valuable way to bring a group of people to life.
The intelligence that you have gained from your research and profiling will ensure that you are able to create a detailed story or profile about your groups. This is your persona.
Take the information you have gathered from your research and bring together the characteristics and similarities to create a story for each profile. Think about how they spend their money, how they make use of their time, what they like and enjoy, and what troubles them.
Use these stories and insight to really home in on your audience. Give them a name and identity. Describe them in as much detail as possible so you and your team can really understand the nature and psychology of your buyer.
Step 4 – Put Personas at the Heart of Your Marketing
Once you have detailed personas for your target audience and know who your development is most likely to appeal to, you can use this as the inspiration for all of your marketing activities.
The look and feel of your branding and photography should be attractive to your persona. If, for example, your persona likes luxury developments, your marketing materials need to impart a sense of prestige and quality.
Your copy should be written with them in mind. Aim to capture their imagination, provide the relevant details they will want to know and address their concerns.
The persona will also have an impact on the marketing channels you use to reach them. Social media advertising may be more applicable for younger first time buyer personas whilst a downsizer persona may be more engaged by features in glossy magazines or newspapers.
When Should You Create a Persona?
If you are thinking of purchasing land or a building for a new property development, it is worth creating your personas as early as possible in this process.
Don’t underestimate how powerful your personas are. They are benchmarks for your target audience that should be at the forefront of any decision making. They will enable you to put your customer first and answer questions, such as, who will buy this completed project? What are my buyer’s expectations? How will we meet or surpass those expectations?
You will want to have your target audience in mind even before you negotiate a land acquisition. Key locational factors such as whether the opportunity is based in a town or city, on the coast or near transport facilities will have an impact on what buyers will be attracted to a development in that area and what size and type of property they will meet their needs. If you have your marketing personas in place you will be armed with a great deal of insight that can ensure you make the right decisions.
How Personas Inform Other Areas of Development and Construction?
Personas are not just useful for marketing purposes. They can also be valuable in informing other areas of development and construction to ensure that your projects are relevant to your potential buyers.
You should have your personas in mind when you are thinking about the design and layout of the properties in your development. Having an understanding of the types of people who are likely to be using the buildings you create will influence decisions about the number of parking spaces, garage sizes, outdoor spaces, whether a lift is required and how many bedrooms are required.
Personas can have an impact on the quality of the development that you build such as whether it is a high specification luxury property for wealthy couples, or a lower specification apartment block targeted at busy professionals who don’t generally spend much time at home. They should also be referred to when you are designing the interior of your show homes to ensure that they will appeal to your target buyer.
Personas are not just for residential property developments either. They can be used effectively for commercial property too. For example, by informing the type of company who would be attracted to high end offices in an upmarket area of a city or a commercial unit on the outskirts of a small town.
Example Developments and Personas
Let’s consider what example target personas might look like for different property developments.
Inner city development featuring a mix of one and two bedroom apartments and studios designed by a leading architect known for their bold and creative buildings.
Girl About Town Chloe
The socialable first time buyer who wants a stylish pad to show off to her friends
Chloe is 31 years old and works as an Events Planner for a busy PR agency. She is ambitious and has been saving hard to buy her first property. Due to the nature of her job, she often works long hours during the week, so she likes to make the most of her weekends.
It’s important that she lives in close proximity to her city centre office but also to her gym, cafés, restaurants and shops so that she can keep up her fitness regime, meet friends after work, and buy a new outfit on weekends.
Chloe is very image conscious so it’s important to her that new apartment is modern and stylish, has an open plan living space where she can entertain and ideally some outdoor space for sunning herself in the summer months.
Small development of executive family homes which is an extension to an existing housing estate in a greenfield area on the edge of a large town with easy access to all of the town’s amenities.
The Growing Turner Family
The Turners desperately need more space. James and Rebecca are in their mid 30s, have two children, Oliver aged 8, and Sophia aged 4, with a third on the way, together with a dog, two cats, rabbits and guinea pigs.
They are currently crammed into a two bedroom Victorian cottage and desperate to move to a lower maintenance four or five bedroom home with a large garden and plenty of access to the countryside so their family can breathe and run riot.
James is a civil engineer and Rebecca works four days a week as a surveyor, so they have a double income. It is crucial for them to be based in a neighbourhood which is popular with other families. They want to be close to good schools and nurseries and a wide variety of amenities so that they won’t have to travel too far to take their children to their extracurricular activities and swimming, tennis, dance and music lessons.
A riverside development containing a mix of two and three bedroom apartments and townhouse in Kingsbridge, South Devon.
Retiring Downsizers Alan & Judith
The empty nesters with their sights on an active retirement – Alan and Judith are both in their early 60s. Their children moved out of home some time ago and are starting to have families of their own.
They have lived in their current house for the past 25 years but no longer need all the bedrooms or such a large garden. They have worked hard and invested wisely so they are in a position to retire a little early, as soon as they have secured their ideal home for their retirement.
Currently based in the Midlands, Alan and Judith have holidayed in South Devon for some time and made many friends in the area. After years of being landlocked, they would love to be based close to the water so a development on a river or coastal town would be ideal. Judith is a fan of modern town houses and John Lewis. They would ideally like three bedrooms to allow for visiting family and a study.
Alan and Judith are both sporty and sociable so access to activities such as cycling, golf, and sailing is important to them. They want to also ensure that they are in close proximity to shops and healthcare facilities that will require during their older years.
Personas should be regarded as an essential asset to your property company. Businesses that take the time to really get to know their potential buyers and develop personas are more likely to make correct decisions.
Good personas will ensure that you have a thorough understanding of your target audience, are able to create developments that will appeal to them and marketing materials that will speak their language. They will make it easier for your sales team to communicate effectively with your potential buyers and to sell properties.
Image credit: iStock.com/fizkes
About Karen Toms
Karen Toms is an experienced project manager who has been managing commercial construction projects for the past eight years. She has also worked as a marketing consultant with a variety of property and construction companies.